Chicken tikka masala. (Photo by Tressa Dale)

Chicken tikka masala. (Photo by Tressa Dale)

Adventurous chicken tikka masala

From the time he was big enough to sit in our special backpack, we’ve been taking him to Skyline for hikes. At first it was a stressful experience.

We were nervous to get too far from the comfort of the car, and packing all the items he might need for diaper changes and bottles and first aide and extra clothes, sunscreen, bug spray, pacifiers … it was daunting.

But we pushed through our fears and took him and managed to climb to the halfway point that first summer.

The second summer was a little easier. Bottles were no longer an issue, and we were less worried about packing all those extras that we never used anyway.

We focused that summer on making the experience fun for him. We took him out of the pack and let him run when it was safe, we talked about the flowers and trees and let him play in the dirt on the trail, and we made it a point to visit the fairy in the trees for lunch each time we went.

We still only managed to make it halfway that summer.

This summer he’s almost too big for the pack, but still rides comfortably when his legs get tired. We only pack him a water bottle and some layers and snacks, just like we pack for ourselves.

He insists upon more freedom and independence on our hikes and argues when we tell him it’s safer in the pack on the steep and rocky parts, which simultaneously irritates me and fills me with pride.

We were determined this summer to take him all the way to the top, and this past weekend we succeeded. We had to push through a few tears and use chocolate for motivation at the end, but our little boy reached his first summit, and left a note in the ammo box at the top to prove it.

This meal is exciting and just a little adventurous but mild enough for even young explorers, and with just a little forethought for the marinade, the meal comes together in half an hour.


For the marinade-

½ cup Greek yogurt

1 teaspoon garam masala

½ teaspoon turmeric

1 teaspoon coriander powder

½ teaspoon cumin

1 teaspoon salt

3 cloves minced garlic

1 teaspoon minced ginger

Splash of lemon juice

1.5 lbs chicken breast or thighs, cut into bite-sized pieces

For the masala

2 tablespoons oil

1 large white onion, minced

½ teaspoon salt

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 tablespoon minced ginger

2 teaspoon garam masala

1 tablespoon coriander powder

2 teaspoon cumin

1 can tomato sauce

½ cup either coconut milk or heavy cream

¼ cup lemon juice


Mix the marinade ingredients together and coat the chicken thoroughly. Cover and allow to sit in the fridge for at least four hours.

In a large pan (or wok, my favorite) cook the chicken in a little oil until just cooked. Remove from the pan and strain off any excess liquid.

Reheat the pan and sautee the onions in oil until soft.

Add the minced ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant.

Add the dry spices and stir constantly for just a couple minutes.

Add the tomato sauce and coconut milk or cream.

Simmer until the liquid has reduced some and the sauce has thickened.

Return the chicken to the pan and cook for just a few more minutes.

Turn off the heat and add the lemon juice.

Taste and season with extra salt if needed.

Serve with fresh rice and garnish with fresh cilantro.

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